In September, Cheryl Hossle’s parents moved into St Faith’s Nursing Home in Cheltenham which is part of the charity Lilian Faithfull Care.
After 62 years of marriage they were able to stay together during, what turned out to be, the last six weeks of her father’s life. Cheryl shares her advice and experience, following many years of navigating through the care system, in case it is useful to others in a similar situation.
Cheryl’s mum Joyce has vascular dementia and her father Derek had been caring for her at home, as Cheryl explains;
“For several years we had home care but it got harder when mum forgot how to walk and became bed bound. It is really hard; the independent one [my dad] will always say that they are ‘fine’ all the time. I never saw my dad lose patience but he was stressed and losing strength. He was so tired all of the time. Home carers only came for half hour visits four times a day and so it was a very long night and day. Mum has an active brain and she didn’t have enough to entertain her, we could see she wasn’t happy and slipping away’’.
“In May mum needed permanent care and dad needed respite.”
Cheryl’s parents moved into a nursing home, however when that home closed to nursing residents, Cheryl started searching again;
“I did investigate 30 homes before we came here. I didn’t visit them all but I did phone calls and drive-by’s and trawled through the CQC reports. I was looking for reliability and solidly good reports and I also looked at the activities they offered. [The home manager] Teresa’s knowledge and chat was hugely influential in helping us to know the best place to move my parents to, her advice was certainly the most useful. We had no complaints about where they were but coming here [St Faith’s] it’s like a palace, it’s out of this world.”
“Very quickly after arriving here Dad said ‘This is my home’ and told us ‘Your mother is looked after and loved’. He told us how all the staff were so kind and thoughtful and that gave us total trust in St Faith’s.”
“The care, activities, standard of cleanliness, furnishings and equipment are amazing. The carers don’t just help with feeding but they are engaging with the residents at the same time. It is how they talk to people – that is excellent here. Even though mum has dementia she is treated with respect. All the little details makes the big picture work.”
“Something people should know is that once [your loved ones] are being cared for, fed properly and sleeping well they can rally quite a bit and that is a really precious piece of time to have with them.”
“Mum is a very happy person here. Looking at her now and all the things she is doing, she has a good quality of life. In the last few months she’s enjoyed watching Scottish dancing, animals visiting and all the music. Mum was a piano teacher and can still read music and tries to play the piano and so the music here is important.”
“Mum is on a puree only diet and here it is all beautifully piped and set out. They make it as normal as possible and they also prepare things like tiramisu which she can still enjoy.”
Cheryl’s father recently passed away. “I am sitting here knowing he had a wonderful time full of gentle care, for the six weeks he was here.”
Joyce & Derek had a double room in St Faith’s Fairhaven Suite which specialises in end of life care. “The carers were so brilliant and very gentle with him. I honestly don’t think you could get better care. When the phone call came saying that dad had passed away, the nurse who called me was able to talk me through the next steps and what we needed to do.“
“I don’t think going into care is something to be feared”
“For anyone going through this I would absolutely say, don’t panic. It can be the best way forward for the whole family.”